On Tuesday, March 26, 2013, OLC attended the NYC Meetup Organizer Meetup Group at Meetup HQ featuring an interview session with Scott Heiferman, Meetup's CEO and co-founder. Heiferman is the CEO and co-founder of Meetup.com, a software platform that helps people find groups of other people that share similar interests and meet in offline settings. The interview was conducted by Will Petz, founder of Random Events.
"In a few words, can you tell us about the intention of Meetup? Has it changed?" Will Petz asked. "It's become more of what the intention was. Right after Meetup started, eBay approached us and asked if they could invest in Meetup. What's interesting is that as there are more people, that network grows denser and gets rid of that 'no-neighbors' idea. You meet new people, you meet your neighbor," Scott Heiferman said.
"Meetup has over 13 million members. Can you help us understand the direction of Meetup? What is the percentage breakdown between group organizers and group members?" Petz asked. "Meetup is 90 people and we're dedicated to making the site better by working and supporting the community. To answer your question, we worked on a whole lot focusing on the organizer part. What's in the mindset was, 'How do we get organizers to succeed?' Their major question was, 'How do I find the right people for the meetup?' So we started thinking about how people find meetups. And about the percentage breakdown, I would say maybe, 60 to 40 on the member experience," Heiferman said.
"Okay, on March 25, Meetup boards were 'retired.' Why did you guys decide to do that?"
Petz asked. "Well, it's something that a very small percentage of people were aware of.
Basically, we knew we needed a concentrated place for users to voice their ideas and questions. By focusing less on areas where there isn't a lot of traffic, we're able to focus on the parts that are used most," Heiferman said.
"What is chapterization?" Petz asked. "This is relevant to one percent of organizers.
We're taking baby steps for organizers to create chapters across cities. There would be the head organizer and co-organizers below that. I believe that the billing end of it is now," Heiferman said.
"What about Meetup Anywhere?" Petz asked. "Meetup Anywhere is an experiment for media companies. It's not our main priority right now," Heiferman said.
Petz moved on to ask about funding. "Where are you going to get more money? Will there be new tools?" he asked. "We have no plans to charge anything additional," Heiferman said. "We're in this great spot as a company, working with the mission-first idea that was implemented at the beginning of Meetup. We're here to see you succeed. If you help others be successful, you will be successful. We're not in it to squeeze money out of you. We want a different world. It's about reinventing cities," he said.
"Will there be any transparency for organizers about beta testing so that they are ready for it?" Petz asked. "We're not philosophically against the idea of not showing it to people who are against change. We're probable one percent of the company that listens to people. We do surveys and testing everyday. We know organizers aren't just software users," Heiferman said.
"How does something go from User Voice to your plate?" Petz asked, regarding user feedback and Meetup's dedication to listen to all of it. "You're going to see users participate more in userboards. We get so many feedback from so many places. It's bit of a magic science...we want to do everything you want us to do, but it's priorities. You have to do the first things first," Heiferman said.
Petz asked Heiferman if there will be a Meetup 3.0, to which Heiferman answered, "Yes, but it's not like the great unveiling of a car. The way we get there is by small steps by small steps and listening to the feedback that comes out of those steps. That said, there's a lot of things to be excited about for the future."
At this point, the floor opened for audience questions.
"What's the philosophy behind one public-facing organizer?" an audience member asked. "Some meetups are great when it's one organizer. Others are great as a group of organizers. We find that a lot of organizers struggle with managing time. The one organizer comes from that singular responsible person who empowers the group," Heiferman said.
"Will there be the ability to get sponsorships and pick certain options that are relevant to me and my group?" an audience member asked. "We want to see you succeed," Heiferman said. "We really do, but what we do will never be enough and right now, that's something that we aren't working on," he said.
An audience member asked if there will be a tutorial on how to use Meetup. "Our answer to helping you understand the site better is our new help feature. It'll help out a lot, but our site will be simpler in the future. We're combining multiple parts of our site to single parts, so stay tuned," Heiferman said.